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VIDEO: “I couldn’t express myself through words.”

A stroke would leave Marnie Johnston, 38, paralysed on her left side, as well as causing her to significant verbal impairment.



A young woman had her whole world change on Christmas Eve 2019, after she suffered a life-threatening stroke.

The stroke would leave Marnie Johnston, 38, paralysed on her left side, as it had a significant impact on her motor functionality, loosing the ability to move her left arm and leg. 

Johnston now has significant verbal impairment as a result of the stroke, which means she could no longer work to help troubled young people, a job she adored.

A year after her stroke, the care team looking after Marnie at the Kingston Rehabilitation centre, encouraged her to engage with art, as a way of enhancing her rehabilitation.

Engaging with art would reignite her spark, after she grew up surrounded by the works of her late father, who was a professional artist.

Marnie’s first painting following her stroke was simple blue squiggles on a canvas, which to the naked eye would bear no meaning.

However, to her care team and herself, this displayed what would be a change of tide on her journey to recovery.

Since those first blue squiggles, Marnie is now producing work fit for any gallery.

On using art as a therapeutic tool in her rehabilitation journey, Marnie says: ““Since having my stroke, I have lost the ability to fully express myself through words. 

“Art has not only allowed me to find my voice again, it has helped me reconnect with the person I was before. 

“Art was a massive part of my childhood and after my father passed away, I was determined to carry on his legacy. 

“However, when I had my stroke, I honestly thought I would never paint again. 

“Thanks to the persistence of my amazing care team who encouraged me, I am now painting every day.”

Marnie continues: “When you are going through an arduous rehabilitation process like I am, having a hobby and a focus is so important. 

“Art has given me joy each day through what has been the hardest time of my life. 

“I am constantly learning new techniques and the impact it’s had on my movement is just amazing. 

“Art is so special to me as there really is no rulebook. 

“It doesn’t matter what you create or how good it is, as long as you enjoy the process and it represents how you’re feeling. 

“I have had many down days during this journey where I have felt consumed by my situation, yet art always offers me a release.”

Marnie is currently receiving full-time specialist care from Surrey based CHD Rehabilitation.

Throughout her rehabilitation Johnston has received speech and language therapy and also weekly occupational therapy, psychology and physiotherapy, including hydrotherapy, all of which, have been a vital component in maximising her speech, motor function and overall wellbeing.

All of this has helped Johnston to adjust to life after stroke.

Marnie’s physiotherapist, Yuhan Murros, commented on her journey, saying: “When Marnie first came through the doors at Kingston, you instantly knew what a creative and caring individual she was. 

“Her stroke clearly had a massive impact on her life and given the effect it had on her speech, we were determined to find another way for her to truly express herself. 

“We knew she has always had a love for art, so we decided to nurture this by encouraging her to engage with it regularly. 

“It was at this moment, that the real Marnie shone through and to see how much she has progressed in her rehabilitation with the help of art is just incredible. 

On how art is influencing her rehabilitation, Marnie says: “Art has finally given me a real purpose and has pushed me to work even harder on my recovery.

“I refuse to be controlled by my stroke and have ambitions of eventually living independently and travelling more. 

“I would also love to work with children again to show them how powerful art can be.”